December 9, 2020

Dining rooms and bars are where we gather to share good food and drink and good times with friends, family and neighbors. And while 2020 made gathering together difficult, restaurants are still here for us, whether we're able to eat their food inside, on a patio or in our own homes. Since eateries are doing everything they can to keep open and keep serving the dining community, we decided to move ahead with our annual Eat Here list of the 100 restaurants we can't live without – and hope we never have to.

Our list recognizes that greatness continues when and where we least expect it, and also serves as a thank you to the people cooking, serving, washing dishes, answering phones, delivering your food, enforcing the rules and making Denver a better city every day. Now get out and eat!

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Abejas

Abejas
Danielle Lirette
Since Abejas opened in downtown Golden in 2015, the intimate eatery has become a standout for fine dining in the western suburbs. The name is Spanish for “bees,” after founders Brandon Bortles and Barry Dobesh, who were called “the Bs” by their friends. An eclectic, seasonal roster of clever yet grounded dishes incorporates influences from Italy, North Africa and even a hint of Mexico, and the food is bolstered by an excellent, value-based wine list. Whatever you decide to eat, it’s clear that these Bs are killer.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
807 13th St., Golden, 80401

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Ace Eat Serve

Ace Eat Serve
Courtesy Ace Eat Serve
Ace owners Josh and Jen Wolkon, who also run Steuben’s, had a fast hit on their hands when they opened their ping-pong hall and pan-Asian eatery in 2012. The menu at Ace Eat Serve has just gotten better over the years, especially since chef Thach Tran joined the team, adding a Peking duck special, hearty noodle soups and new flavors from Vietnam, Thailand and China.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$)
501 E. 17th Ave., Denver, 80203

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

African Grill and Bar

African Grill and Bar
Mark Antonation
Sylvester and Theodora Osei-Fordwuo launched their second eatery at the beginning of 2019, after the success of their Green Valley Ranch location, bringing their unique, delicious cooking to Lakewood. At African Grill and Bar, you’ll find bold spices flavoring uncommon dishes representing Ghana, Nigeria and other African nations, as well as warm service from the owners and their family. This is an unforgettable culinary journey for vegetarians and meat lovers alike.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$)
955 S. Kipling Parkway, Lakewood, 80226

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

American Elm

American Elm
Leigh Chavez Bush
American Elm opened last year with a seasoned pro calling the shots in owner Bob Reiter and a steady hand in the kitchen with executive chef Brent Turnipseede. Since Turnipseede hails from the South, you’ll find hints of country cooking as well as subtle and unusual ingredients integrated into nearly every dish. And don’t miss the bar offerings, which are among the best in northwest Denver.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
4132 W. 38th Ave., Denver, 80212

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Annette

Annette
Danielle Lirette
Located in Stanley Marketplace, Annette is a beautiful restaurant flooded with light and dotted with natural elements that make the room feel sophisticated, not stark. Chef/owner Caroline Glover cooks seasonal ingredients over a wood-fired grill with equal parts reverence and panache, turning out dishes that read as home cooking, even when venturing into such chef-driven ingredients as beef tongue, octopus and heirloom vegetables.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
2501 Dallas St., Aurora, 80010

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Atelier by Radex

Atelier by Radex
Danielle Lirette
For a chef who’s been in the restaurant business as long as he has, Radek Cerny still manages to bring a sense of fun and whimsy to some seriously French cuisine. At Atelier, you can luxuriate in rotating classics like rillettes, escargot, foie gras and lobster, but Cerny also has a way with Western favorites such as elk, salmon and bison. Be sure to throw in a few extra bucks for a bottle of wine; the list here is dazzling, and the food is built to match the best of Burgundy and Bordeaux.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$)
2011 E. 17th Ave., Denver, 80206

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Barolo Grill

Barolo Grill
Mark Antonation
Longtime general manager Ryan Fletter purchased Barolo Grill from his former boss, Blair Taylor, who’d founded the Italian eatery in 1992. Since taking over in 2015, Fletter has modernized the service and menu, designed by chef Darrel Truett, and built a formidable wine cellar while maintaining a touch of the classic. As a result, today Barolo Grill is informed by its past without being weighed down by it.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
3030 E. 6th Ave., Denver, 80206

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Basta

Basta
Since it opened in 2010, Basta has evolved from a simple, wood-fired pizzeria to an evocative Italian kitchen favoring Colorado ingredients over imported products. The restaurant is tiny and hard to find, tucked away in a Boulder apartment complex, but chef/owner Kelly Whitaker’s reputation for honoring tradition while experimenting with new ideas has become a beacon for locals and visitors alike.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
3601 Arapahoe Ave., Boulder, 80303

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Bastien's Restaurant

Bastien's Restaurant
Mark Antonation
There may not be another restaurant in Denver that’s used its history to such great advantage, keeping everything noteworthy from the past — from the mid-century aesthetic to the quality steaks that meet the expectations of modern diners. The family-run business dates back to the 1930s, but the current incarnation was constructed in 1958, in distinct Googie style from the roofline to the neon sign. Inside, dinner in the bird’s-nest loft feels intimate and old-school, and a sugar steak — served no more than medium-rare — gives a taste of Colfax Avenue’s swingin’, stylish earlier days.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
3503 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, 80206

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Beckon

Beckon
Danielle Lirette
When the times allow, Beckon’s chef’s-counter dining room feels like a dinner party thrown by a close friend — if that friend happened to be the best cook you know. But even at scattered seating under the stars and in intimate greenhouse pods, or with food bundled up for a special evening at home, the Beckon experience is unique, thanks to thoughtful executive chef Duncan Holmes and the entire Beckon team, who exude hospitality even when you're picking up food to go.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
2843 Larimer St., Denver, 80205

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs

Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs
Summer Powell
How does a humble hot dog cart rise to the status of one of Denver’s top dogs in the restaurant business? Chalk it up to the creative and obsessive mind of Jim Pittenger, who started out with Coca-Cola-braised onions and cream cheese as a topping combo that elevated his wieners above the competition. Wild-game and specialty sausages have drawn food celebrities including Anthony Bourdain, Ludo Lefebvre and Andrew Zimmern, as well as long lines of tube-steak tourists and frankfurter fanatics. ($)
2148 Larimer St., Denver, 80205

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

The Bindery

The Bindery
Danielle Lirette
Linda Hampsten Fox, the Bindery’s chef/owner, lived and worked in Italy for decades, and the elegant dinner menu of the restaurant she opened in 2017 reflects her intimate knowledge of that country. But the culinary roster ranges farther, with Mexican and New American influences that reflect experiences throughout Hampsten Fox’s nearly thirty-year career, as well as her penchant for unusual proteins — tuna ribs and rabbit — and brash flavor combinations. ($$$)
1817 Central St., Denver, 80211

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Bittersweet

Bittersweet
Mark Manger
In a neighborhood better known for convenience stores and takeout Chinese, Greek and Thai, chef Olav Peterson and his wife, Melissa Severson, have carved out a reputation for avant-garde cuisine with an eye toward seasonality. Since it opened in 2011, Bittersweet has never been pretentious or unapproachable; instead, its offerings delight with discovery while remaining grounded in familiar flavors, especially when it comes to homey takeout meals built for the whole family.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
500 E. Alameda Ave., Denver, 80209

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Black Cat Bistro

Black Cat Bistro
Mark Antonation
Black Cat offers the ultimate farm-to-table experience, especially in recent months, as dining has moved entirely to chef/owner Eric Skokan’s farm, which provisions the menu year-round. You’ll find heirloom tomatoes, bold peppers and plenty of greens in the summer, root veggies and grains in the colder months, and lamb, beef and pork all year. Pasture rotation, organic farming and biodynamic practices result in the highest-quality produce and meats, all expertly utilized by Skokan and his team.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$$)
1964 13th St., Boulder, 80302

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Blackbelly

Blackbelly
Danielle Lirette
Chef Hosea Rosenberg turned his 2009 victory on Bravo’s Top Chef into a growing culinary business that started with a food truck and catering company and turned into a full-fledged restaurant in 2014. The butcher-driven eatery encompasses all of the chef’s passions: charcuterie, top cuts from locally raised animals, and Southwestern flavors from his childhood in New Mexico. Blackbelly’s next-door butcher shop provides an endless supply of cured meats and fresh cuts for the restaurant as well as your home kitchen.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$$)
1606 Conestoga St., Boulder, 80301

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Blue Pan Pizza

Blue Pan Pizza
Paul Joyner
Denver embraced Detroit-style pizza when Blue Pan Pizza debuted in 2015 in West Highland. Chef Jeff “Smoke” Smokevitch and partner Giles Flanagin now run two Blue Pan locations serving rectangular pies built on a traditional base — an airy, crackly crust, Wisconsin brick cheese and a thick, tangy sauce — with toppings that modern customers crave. But you should try all of the styles here: award-winning Italian thin-crust, an even thinner Chicago cracker crust, and big slices of New York-style pizza.

Since restrictions and conditions are changing frequently, contact the restaurant for the latest on COVID-related accommodations and options. ($$)
3930 W. 32nd Ave., Denver, 80212

The 100 Best Denver Restaurants For 2021

Buckhorn Exchange

Buckhorn Exchange
Buckhorn Exchange
The Buckhorn Exchange delivers a Wild West experience as a true, old-timey spot that still has meaning for today’s diners. Before Henry “Shorty Scout” Zietz opened the Buckhorn in 1893, he rode with Buffalo Bill; in 1905, he fed President Teddy Roosevelt, then headed off with him to hunt big game. The menu is loaded with big game to this day, meat that demands a pretty big price tag. If you’re on a nineteenth-century budget, head to the historic bar on the second floor, where you can snack on Rocky Mountain oysters, enjoy entertainment and gaze upon all the taxidermied specimens distantly related to what might arrive on your plate. ($$$$)
1000 Osage St., Denver, 80204